by John Wheatley (1907)

A case of heartless robbery was exposed the other day when the Duke of Hamilton, a local coalmaster named Frederick Michael Thomas Andrew Sucker, and several others were charged with having conspired together and robbed an old miner named Dick M'Gonnagle. Great interest was manifested in the case, the Court being densely crowded. The Magistrate, in opening the proceedings, said that owing to the very grave nature of the charge, and its immense interest to the community, he had decided to adopt the French mode of procedure and would commence by asking the prisoners to submit themselves to examination.

The Coalmaster then entered the witness box to be examined by the Magistrate.

MAG: What is your name?

PRIS: Frederick Michael Thomas Andrew Sucker, sir.

MAG: You have a great many names.

PRIS: I protest, sir.

MAG: I did not ask you your occupation. I desire to know how you came
to be possessed of so many names.

PRIS: I can't answer your question, sir.

MAG: Ah! That sounds suspicious. Now will you kindly tell us how
much wealth you possess?

PRIS: (proudly) One million pounds, sir.

MAG: You must be an extremely able man. How did you come to have a
million pounds?

PRIS: I made it, sir.

MAG: Ah! do you plead guilty to manufacturing coin?

PRIS: (indignantly) No, sir.

MAG: Then will you please tell us what you mean by saying you made it?

PRIS: I earned it in business, sir.

MAG: How long have you been in business?

PRIS: Twenty years, sir.

MAG: You must be a very capable worker to have earned such a huge sum
in such a short time.

PRIS: (indignantly) I don't work, sir.

MAG: Ah! this is interesting. You don't work and yet you have told us
that in twenty years you have earned one million pounds?

PRIS: I own a colliery, sir.

MAG: What is a colliery?

PRIS: A shaft sunk perhaps a hundred fathoms in the earth; also various
buildings and machinery for the production of coal.

MAG: Did you sink the shaft?

PRIS: No, sir. I got men to do it.

MAG: Did you manufacture the machinery and erect the buildings?

PRIS: No, sir. I am not a workman. I got others to work.

MAG: This is an extraordinary case. You say other men erected the
buildings, and manufactured the machinery, sunk the shaft and
yet you own the colliery? Have the workmen no share in it?

PRIS: No, sir. I am the sole owner.

MAG: I confess I can't understand. Do you mean to tell me that those
men put a colliery in full working order, and then handed it over
to you without retaining even a share of it for themselves?

PRIS: Certainly, sir.

MAG: They must have been very rich and generous, or very foolish!
Were they rich men?

PRIS: Oh, no, sir.

MAG: Had they many collieries?

PRIS: Oh, none at all, sir. They were merely workmen.

MAG: What do you mean by merely workmen?

PRIS: Merely people who work for others.

MAG: Surely they must be generous people. Don't they require collieries

PRIS: They do, sir.

MAG: And they own no collieries?

PRIS: No, sir, but I allow them to work in mine.

MAG: That is very kind of you, but of course not nearly so kind as
their act in giving the colliery to you. Do you find you don't
require the whole colliery yourself, that you can allow others
to use it?

PRIS: Oh, you don't understand, sir. I don't work in the colliery.
I allow the workmen to do so.

MAG: Oh, I see. After those men handed the colliery to you, you found
you had no use for it, and so returned it to save them erecting

PRIS: Oh no, no, sir. The colliery is still mine, but they work in it.

MAG: Really, this is very confusing. You own a pit which you did not
sink, and plant which you did not manufacture nor erect. You do
not work in this colliery because you do not want to work. Those
who do want to work own no colliery, and yet they gave one to
you. Did you beg of them to come and work in your colliery, as
you had no use for it?

PRIS: Oh, not at all, sir. They begged me to allow them to work.

MAG: But why beg leave to use your colliery? Why not make one for
themselves, as they had done for you?

PRIS: I beg pardon, sir, but they could only do that by electing their
own men to the County Councils and Parliament, and getting those
bodies to do it, and THAT would never do. That would be [insert
"Anarchy" or "Communism" or "Socialism" or some scare word, here]

MAG: Seems to me it would be ordinary common sense.

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